2019 is here and it is time to start thinking about the Wyoming Cowboys football season in 2019. The Pokes have some strong momentum heading into the new year as they finished the season winning 4 straight to gain bowl eligibility. Unfortunately, they were left out of the bowl season because there weren’t enough games for all the teams that qualified. The Cowboys return plenty of experience on both sides of the ball, but will need to replace key players such as Nico Evans, Andrew Wingard, Carl Granderson, Marcus Epps, and James Price.

Congrats to Brad Reed for being the overall winner as he tied with 3 others in straight up picks and beat the spread more than anyone else. His overall record was 20-3, much better than my 15-8. Oh well, there’s always next season.

The Final Standings:

 

Straight UpAgainst the Spread

Robert Gagliardi

10-25-6

Brandon Foster/Davis Potter

11-16-5

Brad Reed

11-1

9-2

Chad Smith11-1

6-5

Connor Cunningham11-1

4-7

Wyoming Cowboys6-6

7-4

 

WyoNation Season Awards:

Offensive MVP: Nico Evans (consensus)

Defensive MVP: Logan Wilson (4) (Tyler Hall received 1 vote)

Robert Gagliardi, Wyosports.net

What are your overall thoughts on the 2018 season?

 thought this team would lean on its defense while the offense found its way. I suppose it did, but I didn’t expect the offense, or perhaps I should say the passing game, struggle as much as it did. Even when true freshman Sean Chambers emerged as the starter it wasn’t like the Cowboys were that prolific of a passing team. It wasn’t even that balanced and relied a lot on the run. The defense was good, despite facing three of the most prolific offenses in the country in Washington State, Missouri and Utah State. The Cowboys didn’t force turnovers at the rate it did last season, but they played well and led the MW in total defense and was second in scoring defense in conference play. Overall, 6-6 isn’t bad for a team that dealt with a lot of ups and downs, and instead of caving when it was 2-6 it got better and won four straight to end the season. 

Who was Wyoming’s offensive MVP? RB Nico Evans

When Evans was healthy, he produced. He was the heart and soul of this team and his numbers proved that, but so did his toughness. One could argue Chambers for MVP, and it would be a fair argument. But Evans set the tone for this team from start to finish. 

Who was Wyoming’s defensive MVP? LB Logan Wilson

Yeah, he led the team in tackles, but his ability to do that opened up things for the senior safety duo of Andrew Wingard and Marcus Epps, and also allowed the defensive staff to do some different things in terms of blitzes and coverages with Wilson manning things in the middle.

What was your favorite moment from the 2018 season?

Seeing Chambers’ first start in a rivalry game on the road at Colorado State, and Wyoming coming away with the victory.

What needs to change in order for the Cowboys to better in 2019? How do you think they will fare?

Assuming Chambers comes back 100 percent from his broken leg, and the early signs are positive, I need to see more out of the passing game from him. I know UW doesn’t want him or any of its quarterbacks to throw it 40 times a game, but Chambers threw it only 25 times last season. I need to see more progression in the passing game. That said, who makes up for Evans’ production at running back, and, UW needs to have more deep threats at wide receiver. The return of C.J. Johnson from a knee injury should help. The Cowboys also need to have guys emerge at offensive tackle and tight end, and depth and new personnel must step up along the defensive line and at safety.

Six or seven wins is not unrealistic for this team next season, and perhaps more if a few things fall into place.

 

Davis Potter, Casper Star-Tribune

What are your overall thoughts on the 2018 season?

You can say what you want about some of the coaching decisions this season – and some can certainly be questioned – but you’ve got to give it to Craig Bohl and his staff for keeping this team engaged when Wyoming was staring at a 2-6 record. The defense finally started playing like the experienced unit so many expected to see all season, the quarterback change ignited the offense, and while an easier schedule down the stretch certainly helped, the Cowboys finally put it all together for their third straight non-losing season under Bohl. That shouldn’t go unnoticed considering how easy it would’ve been for this team to fold. 

Who was Wyoming’s offensive MVP? RB Nico Evans

 It’s Evans and it’s not even close. Given the season Evans put together, the bigger question is where was Evans last season when the Cowboys virtually had no running game? Sure, Sean Chambers’ presence as a running quarterback helped late in the season, but the most impressive thing about Evans’ season was that most of his 1,325 yards were piled up when Tyler Vander Waal and the passing game weren’t doing a whole lot. Despite running against seven-, eight- and (sometimes) nine-man boxes, Evans had at least 100 yards in seven of the nine games he played (not counting his two series against Air Force). 

Who was Wyoming’s defensive MVP? Tyler Hall

Logan Wilson or Andrew Wingard are easy answers – and I wouldn’t argue much with either one – but I’ll go with Tyler Hall. There was a lot of angst about the secondary’s ability to hold up on the outside when C.J. Coldon went down with was turned out to be a season-ending arm injury against Missouri, and some of that was justified when Boise State threw all over Wyoming with redshirt freshman Keyon Blankenbaker filling in. Normally the nickel in Wyoming’s 4-2-5 defense, Hall eventually slid outside and you didn’t see teams complete many balls over the top after that. Hall led the Cowboys with nine pass breakups, and I’m of the opinion that as the coaching staff grew more confident in Hall’s play, it allowed Scottie Hazelton to drop Wingard and Marcus Epps into the box more, which was where Wyoming’s defense was at its best. 

What was your favorite moment from the 2018 season?

Not sure I really have a favorite moment, but as a human being, you felt good for Vander Waal when he came on for Chambers against Air Force and led that fourth-quarter comeback from 13 points down. Not only was it one of those if-you-hadn’t-seen-it-you-wouldn’t-believe-it moments, but it’s easy in any sport to be somewhat bitter and lose interest after being demoted. Props to Vander Waal for having the opposite attitude and making the most of his opportunity. 

What needs to change in order for the Cowboys to better in 2019? How do you think they will fare?

I’m not making any predictions about next season until I see how their recruiting class shakes out and what they look like in meaningful practices/scrimmages next fall. Just way too early. But it’s going to be interesting to see if Craig Bohl opens it up to a competition between Chambers and Vander Waal at quarterback. That’s where the improvements have to start for this team, and the production was night and day when Chambers was under center. How soon will Chambers be back to 100 percent after breaking his leg? And will the defense not only be able to find replacements for Wingard, Epps and defensive end Carl Granderson but productive replacements for them? There’s certainly no shortage of storylines heading into next season, but it all starts with the quarterbacks.

 

Brad Reed, Wyonation.com

What are your overall thoughts on the 2018 season?

I was Disappointed for the Cowboys not getting selected to the post season. A real bummer for the seniors. In some years of college football they’re hunting for really good 5-7 football teams to fill bowl games and other seasons there’s too many 6-6+ teams and some teams get left out. This year there was a glut of above .500 teams. Unfortunate. The start to the first half of the season was a little disappointing, was really thinking the Pokes could knock off Wazzu, but man did the Cougars become a juggernaut this season, so can’t be too bummed about that. The way the Cowboys finished the season really showed the resolve of the team. After the Hawaii loss the team could have easily packed it in and called it a season. Instead they chose to keep fighting, and they won their last four games of the season. Sean Chambers shows a lot of promise, but an injury derailed that. Another offseason of learning the playbook, as well as Vander Waal, should really help both quarterbacks. Nico Evans, can’t say enough about this guy. What a great teammate and asset to the Cowboys. Carl Granderson and Andrew Wingard won’t be forgotten any time soon.

Who was Wyoming’s offensive MVP? RB Nico Evans

Evans is by far the offensive MVP. What a great season for the senior. Went from bench time to sporadic playing over the last few years to a star in college football. Evans finished third nationally in yards per game, eleventh in total rushing yards. In today’s college football there aren’t many guys who would ride the bench for three or four years waiting his turn. Evans did, and that’s what makes him an outstanding teammate. Team above self. I hope he gets a shot at the next level, he was truly special this season. 

Who was Wyoming’s defensive MVP? LB Logan Wilson

Tough choice on a defense full of playmakers. My defensive MVP this season goes to Logan Wilson. Wilson led the team in total tackles, solo tackles, tackles for loss, and tied for most interceptions. As far as linebackers go there’s not much that Wilson can’t do. He’s a terrific playmaker and deserved better than All-Mountain West honorable mention, there aren’t many linebackers in the country, much less the Mountain West, better than him.

What was your favorite moment from the 2018 season?

The Border War in Fort Collins was my favorite moment this season. In an up and down season seeing the Cowboys absolutely hammer the Rams in their first time hosting at Canvas Stadium that was something else. The Boot stays in Laramie for the third consecutive season. 

What needs to change in order for the Cowboys to better in 2019? How do you think they will fare?

This year’s senior class leaves a lot of big shoes to fill. The Cowboys will need to replace the production and leadership of Andrew Wingard and Carl Granderson on the defense. Offensively the Cowboys need Vander Waal and Chambers to make huge strides in the offseason. The offense was one of the worst in the country this season, and that needs to improve. I think the Pokes will be better next season than this year. They have Missouri and Idaho at home, Texas State and Tulsa on the road. Not an easy schedule by any means. Missouri just landed former Clemson quarterback Kelly Bryant, Texas State has recently hired Jake Spavital as head coach and he’s bringing Bob Stitt on as his offensive coordinator. At least Brett Rypien is graduating from Boise State. Already excited for 2019!

 

Chad Smith, Wyonation.com

What are your overall thoughts on the 2018 season?

I wrote before the season that I had no idea what to expect for the Cowboys this season with all the questions they had to answer. Things certainly went in an unexpected fashion. No one expected the 2-6 start we saw or the 4 game winning streak to close the season. The Pokes caught a tough break being bowl-eligible in one of the rare years where there were more bowl-eligible teams than bowl spots.

Who was Wyoming’s offensive MVP? RB Nico Evans

1,325 rushing yards with 6 rushing TDs and 5 rushes for 50 yards or more which ranked him 3rd in the country. Evans was one of the most improved players in all of college football and Wyoming wouldn’t have been anywhere near 6-6 this season without him.  

Who was Wyoming’s defensive MVP? LB Logan Wilson

Many might say S Andrew Wingard, but the Casper native put up better numbers this season with 103 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions and 2 passes broken up. 

What was your favorite moment from the 2018 season?

Wyoming beating Colorado State on the road in the Border War with true freshman Sean Chambers making his first collegiate start. 

What needs to change in order for the Cowboys to better in 2019? How do you think they will fare?

Next year will have many questions much like this season. Wyoming returns two experienced QB’s but will lose RB Nico Evans and have quite a few questions at WR. On defense, Wingard and Epps graduate at safety and Wyoming will have some holes to replace on the DL. If all goes right Wyoming could be a player in the Mountain Division but there could be some growing pains as well with so many key players to replace. The key will be the offense and finding the best way to utilize QB Sean Chambers who clearly showed he has the potential to be an absolute star in the Mountain West.  

 

Connor Cunningham, Wyonation.com

What are your overall thoughts on the 2018 season?

A lot of mixed feelings on the 2018 season. I had high expectations, maybe that was unfair. The Cowboys didn’t play well in the first half of the season and should’ve won at Hawaii. That loss definitely stings more than any and eliminated the Pokes from a bowl game in the end.

I was extremely excited how the team finished the season, knocking out 4 straight to get to bowl eligibility and beating CSU and Air Force along the way. It was a positive way to end the season and gave Cowboy fans something to look forward too. Cowboy teams in the past that have started 2-6 have simply quit on the season and would have maybe found one more win somewhere in there. The Cowboy culture has changed under Bohl and the program is certainly headed in the right direction.

Who was Wyoming’s offensive MVP? RB Nico Evans

This one isn’t close. Evan was so fun to watch this year and he put together one of the best seasons in a long time. It is a shame he had to battle injuries throughout the season and missing 2.5 games certainly doesn’t help his overall stats but man, when he was on the field he was a weapon. He is going to be missed, but I think the running backs behind him showed promise and learned a thing or two being Evans’ backup.

Who was Wyoming’s defensive MVP? LB Logan Wilson

To me, this isn’t even close. Logan Wilson has been a monster for 3 straight years and still somehow flies under the radar. He is everywhere on the field and makes plays week in and week out. I cannot wait to see what he does in his final year in brown and gold.

What was your favorite moment from the 2018 season?

Beating CSU is always fun, especially when it’s a third time in a row, but the Air Force game this year takes the cake. Tyler Vander Waal replacing the injured Sean Chambers after being benched a few weeks earlier and leading a wild comeback to beat the Falcons was as much as I have ever had watching a Cowboy game. It was a great moment for the young signal caller and the Cowboys.

What needs to change in order for the Cowboys to better in 2019? How do you think they will fare?

I don’t think the Cowboys need to change a whole lot. They certainly bring back a lot of talent and have an interesting quarterback competition to follow this spring and early in the fall. I think the biggest thing is replacing the talent that left. The holes that Epps, Wingard, and Granderson leave behind on defense are huge. Who is going to step up and fill those roles? Is Youhanna Ghafain going to be back? If I am a betting man, I would think not.

On offense, CJ Johnson returns and the Cowboys have 2 good young running backs to go along with Austin Conway. Can Chambers improve his passing game? Will someone step up at tight end? The news of Josh Harshman getting one more year is exciting.

The cowboys should be able to go 3-1 in non-conference as they will host Missouri and Idaho while traveling to Texas State and Tulsa. The non conference side of things is similar to this year except the Cowboys have to travel to Boise and will face SDSU, Nevada, and UNLV rather than Fresno State, Hawaii, and San Jose State. 2019 should be a fun season, and the Cowboys should contend for bowl eligibility for the 4th straight year.

 

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